Archive for the 'Earth Day' Category

Celebrate Earth Day with the 4 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Resist

Dear Diary,

Today I went to Dundas Square, one of the busiest intersections in Toronto to join Rhytms of Resistance-Toronto,“a political samba-inspired band that plays for environmental and social justice.” The band was raising awareness about some of the tar sands pipelines that will threaten forests, waterways, fish habitat, and communities along and near the pipelines. What a way to spend Earth Day, eh?

ImageThey were also letting people know how to plug into the resistance against the pipelines! The band’s groupies, who I gladly joined, were letting people know about a rally happening at the Enbridge Annual General Meeting in Toronto on May 9th. I learned about the Yinka Dene Alliance, one of the leading groups of First Nations opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline, who will be in Toronto on May 8th and 9th to say “No” to the proposed pipeline.

Members of the YDA are traveling from BC to Toronto for the Enbridge AGM and they will be stopping in Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg along the way. Once I am done writing this diary entry, I am going to invite all my friends in those cities. It is Earth Day after all—great excuse to spread the word on how to resist environmentally destructive projects.

I am so glad that so many people are piping up (pun intended) about these pipelines. These pipelines would contaminate water, fish sources, and human health. Communities would be put at risk for the profit of a few greedy oil and gas corporations. Diary, that just isn’t fair!

I mentioned the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would bring dirty tar sands to the west coast of British Columbia for export; but I still haven’t mentioned the tankers that would come to collect that oil. They would have to travel through ecologically sensitive areas and through waters which are known to be rough because of the high winds and waves. Do we really want to repeat some of the horrible oil spills which have destroyed fishing communities and continue to impact human health and livelihoods? This sounds just too risky!

There is also another pipeline which would bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Kitimat as well: the Pacific Trails Pipeline. This LNG would be primarily from shale gas development in northeastern BC. This type of gas development involves injecting water and unidentified chemicals into underground shale rock formations at very high pressures in order to extract natural gas below the surface. This process uses up tons of water, while also contaminating groundwater and local drinking water.

But those aren’t the only pipelines blazing through British Columbia. Kinder Morgan is trying to increase the amount of tar sands crude that would be transported through the Trans Mountain Pipeline, a pipeline which brings tar sands to southwestern BC.  There has been local opposition to the pipeline expansion which would require twinning the pipeline and putting communities at significant risk.

Looking east, there is the Trailbreaker project which would bring tar sands across the Prairies, Great Lakes, Ontario, Quebec, and finally to the coast of Maine, USA. The pipeline has faced growing opposition from communities across the route. And rightfully so. In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline leak put over a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River which flows into the Great Lakes. Enbridge may be okay with polluting the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, but I won’t sit by and just watch it happen.

And I am not the only one!

This Earth Day, there were over 10 communities that took action specifically against pipelines, tankers, and tar sands expansion. In Montreal, Quebec there was a march so huge that “more than two hours after it began, a large crowd was still waiting to begin at the starting point.” Right on!

Diary, I am so inspired that I am going to explore more ways to take collective action against environmentally destructive operations.

Happy Earth Day, -maryam

The Spring edition of Rising Tide’s newsletter, Burning Issues, is out!

Burning Issues - Spring 2011

The Spring Edition of RTNA’s newsletter, Burning Issues, is out!  Click the image above, or HERE to download.  This season’s pieces include:

  • direct action halting of heavy-haulers carrying tar-sands equipment shipments through Montana
  • updates on Tim DeCristopher, his trial, and the next phase of resistance
  • the resistance’s Nuclear Reaction- false dichotomies of energy, false solutions of nuclear, and where to go from there
  • Kentuckians occupying their governor’s offices to demand the abolition of MTR4-20 Day of Action Against Extraction!
  • shutdowns of the National Coal Council’s meeting in St. Louis
  • Canadian resistance to the tar sands, including a takeover of trade ministerial office
  • Olympia RT’s kickass campaign to stop a biomass power at Evergreen State College
  • the March on Blair Mountain, and reports from the Coalfields
  • a one-year lookback at the Gulf, from disaster to resumption of drilling
  • and much more– take a look!

Reclaim Power in Washington D.C.! A Call to Action on April 18th at the End of Powershift

Rising Tide North America invites all residents, students and youth to join the Reclaim Power.

WHAT: Reclaim Power March & Creative Direct Actions

WHERE: Lafayette Square (H St NW & Jackson Pl NW); Washington D.C.

WHEN: April 18th at the end of the Powershift rally (scheduled from 10am-1pm)


From April 15th through the 18th, thousands of students and youth will be attending Powershift 2011. This conference has been billed as another opportunity to do something about climate change. Throughout the conference, Democratic politicians from Al Gore to Lisa Jackson will tell us the solution is to lobby, vote and work within the corporate-owned political system to stop climate change. They will tell us that supporting the existing leadership’s policies and the creation of carbon markets will stem the rising tide of carbon emissions slowly destroying our planet.

Do we really believe the answers lie in supporting a broken democracy and a carbon trading market that only makes bankers and oil men richer?

Despite Obama’s promises on the climate and the environment, things are only getting worse. Continue reading ‘Reclaim Power in Washington D.C.! A Call to Action on April 18th at the End of Powershift’

Five Arrested at Valmont Power Plant in Colorado

UPDATE: Everyone is out of jail charged with a misdemeanor trespass.

**Donate to legal support

Things are heating up in the Rockies!

**See the pictures here

Five Arrested at Valmont Power Plant in Colorado

Boulder Activists Unfurl Banner and Erect Wind Turbines on Top of Giant Coal Pile

Boulder, CO – At approximately 12:45 today, four activists climbed onto the massive coal pile in front of the Valmont Power Plant.  An enormous banner was deployed down the front of the coal pile reading “RENEWABLES NOW” and two large mock wind turbines were erected on top of the coal pile.  The activists reclaimed the coal pile to display their message for approximately 1.5 hours, before they were taken into custody.

Meanwhile a rally took place on outside of the Valmont Power Plant.  Bill McKibben, a leading climate change activist and founder of, who happened to be in Boulder for a speaking event, came out to the rally and expressed his support for those on the coal pile.

“Our leaders have been listening to the coal industry instead of the science and now people need to take the lead and that is what they are doing.  The action today is great and what is so great about it is that the same thing is happening all around the world. Everywhere people are showing the same kind of courage,” said Mr. McKibben.

The protest, which occurred less than one week after the 40thAnniversary of Earth Day, comes as Boulder is considering whether to renew a 20 year franchise agreement with Xcel.  Recently, the Boulder City Council and
City Manager suggested that Boulder should delay signing a new franchise agreement to allow more time to negotiate with Xcel about implementing a stronger renewable energy plan. Continue reading ‘Five Arrested at Valmont Power Plant in Colorado’

Pushing the Politics of Possibility

This Earth Day I was torn between excitement and disappointment. With thousands of people convening at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia and hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall for a Climate Rally I could see the movement out in force calling for bold change. But then the news broke that Senator Lindsey Graham was further delaying his long-awaited climate bill. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not particularly excited about the bill, it’s woefully inadequate. But the further delay speaks to how the urgency and science are not aligning with the politics. We need to drastically reshape the political landscape of this country through innovation new tactics and visionary youth leadership that pushes what I like to call the politics of possibility.
It is time for our government to match the compassion and leadership that young people are demonstrating on our campuses and in our communities. We have been making progress, but it’s not enough. Let’s look to Senator Lindsey Graham as a prime example. Though he is waffling now, he credits young people for bringing him to climate consciousness, when he told the New York Times in February; “I have been to enough college campuses to know if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate. It’s a value.” He is feeling the popular pressure but still isn’t listening to the details of our message.  So youth in South Carolina and around the country are responding:

Massachusetts: Follow Our Lead

Yesterday I had the honor of delivering the Commonwealth Challenge to Massachusetts lawmakers, asking them to pass “An Act to Create a Repower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force”, a bill that would set up a task force to pursue 100% clean electricity by 2020. Marla Marcum and I delivered a letter describing the results of the campaign along with the 350 names (coincidence?) of those who have taken the Commonwealth Challenge Pledge to the 160 Massachusetts State Representatives and 40 State Senators.

Thanks to the actions of the Commonwealth Challenge participants and the courageous efforts of the Leadership Campaign, yesterday afternoon Chairman John Binienda indicated that he would have the conversations necessary to move our bill out of the Rules Committee in the House of Representatives. This is a critical step that would allow the bill to get a full hearing.

Earlier in the day, I was privileged to announce (dressed in Colonial brown) the accomplishments of the Commonwealth Challenge at the “Climate Courage Awards” in the Massachusetts State House:

Commonwealth Challenge

Continue reading ‘Massachusetts: Follow Our Lead’

Stand-in Ends with Phone Conversation with House Rules Chair

Posted on behalf of Katie Chin, New Media Coordinator of Students for a Just and Stable Future

On this historic 40th anniversary of Earth Day, participants in The Leadership Campaign have once again reminded us all of the courage necessary to create the just and stable future called for in 1970. The Leadership Campaign is a Massachusetts coalition of students, community members, and members of the faith community. Together they have introduced legislation demanding that Massachusetts create a plan to reach 100% clean electricity by 2020. Since the introduction of “An Act to Create A Repower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force” on December 7, 2010 the campaign has worked diligently towards gaining support throughout the state for this bold and important bill.

Currently the bill is held up in the House Committee on Rules, headed by Representative John Binienda. Representative Binienda has the power to release the bill. He has claimed that he supports the goal of 100% clean electricity by 2020, but has nonetheless been blocking the bill and thus has prevented it from receiving a fair hearing. Today, the campaign conducted a stand-in direct action.

Continue reading ‘Stand-in Ends with Phone Conversation with House Rules Chair’

A Dash of Hope From An Earth Day Cynic

Cross-posted from HuffingtonPost

If you are like me, it’s easy to be cynical on Earth Day. For one day the public’s attention is turned to the environment, but largely what they see is advertisements for superficial eco-products, greenwash from some of the biggest and dirtiest corporations, and talking points from politicians – there is very little discussion of creating a bright green economy that can address our economic and environmental crises and provide opportunities to communities who are too often stricken with environmental injustice.

It’s easy to cast Earth Day off as nothing but a wasted opportunity, but only if we waste it. This should be our day! It’s up to each of us to talk to someone about why we do what we do, and recruit them into our efforts. Take a moment to talk up your great work, celebrate!

I’ll start: Today, as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, I’m excited because I’m actually thinking about the future. Millennials are on a generation-wide mission to transform our society and economy to one that works for us, to one that will provide millions of jobs for our generation, and put us to work staving off the climate crisis.

Continue reading ‘A Dash of Hope From An Earth Day Cynic’

Earth Day 40

Cross-posted from the Co2ncequence Blog

Welcome to the 40th Earth Day.

As the world celebrates 40 years of moving toward a cleaner, more environmentally friendly future, here in the biggest fight of our lives, this day is about work.

As youth, we see a future with a vastly different climate than what we have today, less jobs and dependence on foreign countries for energy. We see a country mired in 20th century policy as we delve deep into the 21st century. We will see more and more young Americans go off to fight wars that are funded on both sides by our insatiable desire for oil.

That is why the work cannot stop. We need a Senate brave enough to make to make history. We need to cut our dependence on oil, by building a clean energy economy. We need to cut our use of coal by putting a cap on carbon. We need to fight climate change by passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, making our world livable and our economy strong. Continue reading ‘Earth Day 40′

Earthday: The Movement We Need

Forty years ago tomorrow, there was a call for justice. Twenty million Americans heard that call and came together for the first Earth Day. It was bold. It was loud. It was right. And soon politicians who opposed strong environmental legislation started losing their jobs. There has been progress since 1970. But by and large, the movement to save the Earth has been wandering in the desert for the past forty years. Forty years is enough time to wander in the desert. It’s about time we crossed the river.

We cannot wait any longer. The world is burning. We need to get bolder. We cannot accept compromises. There is no room for negotiation. If real action on climate destabilization is not “politically feasible” then the politics need to change, because as Bill McKibben is fond of saying, physics and chemistry are very poor negotiators. And we need to get louder. A lot louder.

In Washington, a bill is about to be introduced that will almost certainly do next to nothing to stop global climatic disruption. And this is not unexpected — it is foolish to expect our politicians to lead us to a just and stable future. We must lead them. We must make real demands, and remove any politician who does not meet them. That is what democracy looks like.

Across the country now we are hearing a call. 100% Clean Electricity within this decade. It’s a good call, because it makes clear that this is a moral issue. People are losing their homes. People are dying. We never heard a call for 80% less slavery in in the next fifty years. Or 35% increases in a woman’s right to vote. Or get rid of segregation eventually. When something is wrong is has to stop completely and it has to stop immediately. Burning fossil fuels is wrong. It must be ended right now.

Continue reading ‘Earthday: The Movement We Need’

Earth Day

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